Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day +75 Two Steps Forward, Three Steps Back

When all of this began, I never imagined we'd see July in the hospital, but here we are with July right around the corner and no end in sight. The past 10 days have been filled with a lot of ups and downs. Last Monday Jacob threw up his NJ tube so he had another one placed on Wednesday. He almost made it a week with that one, but threw it up this morning. He has been more willing to eat and take his oral medicines today since the tube came out. He understands that if he doesn't eat, drink, and take his medicines, then we have to put in another tube and for now that seems to be all the encouragement that he needs. He certainly looks a lot more comfortable without that tube taped across his face. I just hope he can get all the nutrition, fluids, and medication that he needs to be healthy.

This past Sunday was a really rough day for Jacob. He had tachycardia (an elevated heart rate), and high potassium (which can cause cardiac arrest) for which he had to take a terrible medication to cleanse it from the body, causing him to vomit and have terrible diarrhea all throughout the day and night. All of his numbers were off too, indicating that there were other problems going on. His stool and vomit were coming back positive for blood as well. Doctors decided to give him a blood transfusion since his hemoglobin was trending down anyway. After a restless night Sunday, Jacob didn't wake up until nearly noon on Monday. Luckily, he seemed to be back to his happy self again and the symptoms from the previous day seemed to clear... or so we thought. Although he continued happy throughout Tuesday, a couple of tests came back with bad news. First of all, we found out that he has an infection in one of the lumens of his central line (the lumens are the two tubes hanging down from the central line placed in his chest, and the IV is attached to one of the lumens), so he started on an additional antibiotic for that. Next, we found out that he tested positive for C. diff, a problem with the bad bacteria taking over the good bacteria in the gut. He is taking Flagyl four times a day, and unfortunately, it tastes really gross and without his tube in, he has to get it down on his own. C. diff is contagious so now we have to take extra precautions in and out of his room.

Other news we got last week that was terribly discouraging was that it appeared that he might be losing his graft. All the donor cells that tested so high in his body a month ago had dropped, some of them dramatically. The doctor ordered an NBT (nitroblue tetrazolium) test to see if his CGD was still cured despite the drop in donor cells. We got the results today and thankfully he still has 60% functionality of working neutrophils, which is enough to protect him from CGD-related infections. According to his doctors, he only needs about 10% donor cells to be protected, so 60% is plenty. However, this loss of donor cells did concern the doctors enough that they are weaning Jacob off of his immunosuppressant, afraid that it might be too weakening to the donor cells. As he comes off of that drug, hopefully his chimerism of donor cells will increase, or at least not drop any more. There is a chance of graft vs. host flare-ups while coming off of the immunosuppressant, but it's something that needs to be done to protect the graft. I would feel terrible if we lost the graft and put Jacob and our family through this ordeal for nothing.

There have certainly been more bumps in the road throughout this process than I ever imagined beforehand. We thought for sure that Jacob would be home by now, but with one problem arising after another, the doctors still can't say when he will be safe to leave. Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Day +65 NJ Tube & Happy Father's Day

Since Jacob's NJ tube placement last week, he has gradually increased through the minimum dose of Pedialyte to the maximum, and then switched over to diluted formula and is now on full strength formula. He has tolerated the nutrition well, which has been a blessing. We struggled a little with medication through the tube at first because he kept vomiting afterwards even though it was being inserted all the way down in his intestines. We have found that if we slightly warm up his medications and water and do his medications very slowly, he doesn't throw up. Jacob is taking all but two medications through his tube now, so once we get those last two switched over and the doctors are happy with the levels of those medications in his body, we will hopefully be discharged. He is getting formula continuously through his tube, but the doctor wants to try increasing the amount of formula so we can take breaks off the tube sometimes. The formula seems to have helped resolve his diarrhea and has even triggered an awareness to eat again. It's not a lot, but at least he will eat a couple of crackers or something each day. We are grateful for everyone's continued prayers for Jacob's complete healing. We still have a long way to go with him, but feel like he is slowly making progress. We will get the results on another chimerism test this week to see how the new marrow is doing. We are hoping that it is thriving!

Josh was able to spend Father's Day at home with Ethan and they got together with extended family for dinner today. I'm grateful for my husband who is a terrific and loving father, for my own incredible dad who has taught me so many things throughout my life, and for my amazing father-in-law who is so kind and helpful. I love these men so much and am grateful to have them in my life.

Other good news:

*Ethan's transfer request to go to school where Josh's mom teaches got approved! It is also where Josh and his younger brother attended elementary school. We are so excited! He starts kindergarten on August 8th, I believe.

*Last week I got to witness the birth of my cute little nephew Colin! It was an amazing experience and I'm thankful that my little sis' invited me to be present for it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Happy Birthday, Jacob!

Jacob playing with his new toys

Jacob is showing how old he is now.
He says this is harder than two fingers.
He is really concentrating.

Jacob is delighted to frost his cake with Ethan!
(Too bad he wouldn't eat any of it.)

Putting on the finishing touches!

We celebrated Jacob's 3rd birthday in the hospital and I think he had a fun time. I was in the room with Jacob, and Josh was outside the room with Ethan. Josh wiped off gifts to get ready to be in Jacob's room and Ethan had the job of handing them to Jacob. After gifts, the boys decorated a birthday cake in the doorway. Jacob had a lot of fun and as I was putting him to bed that night, he told me "I want to go home." We really miss being all together as this process continues to drag on.

Yesterday Jacob had the NJ tube placed. It passed the test of not coming up when he vomited, like the NG tube did. After some complications with the tube kinking inside of Jacob, we finally got it working this morning and now Jacob is getting pedialyte through it. He's starting with only 1 teaspoon/hour to see how he tolerates it, and then it will gradually increase. He is still getting hydration through his central line until he is getting the proper amount of nutrition through his tube. Jacob is still getting used to having a tube taped to his face, but at least he hasn't tried pulling it out. He does seem sad about it though, which breaks my heart. He has barely said anything or smiled at all these past two days. I really wish he could have his big brother here with him. Ethan really seems to brighten Jacob's day the most.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Day +49 Possible Virus

The boys send each other a hug since they can't touch.

Say cheeeeeese!

Jacob's CT scan result came back that his lungs are clear! In fact, the problem that was identified 3 weeks ago has been resolved. By process of elimination, the doctor suspects he has a virus and that there is not much we can do for him. He is already taking antiviral medication, so that is about all they can do. Jacob is still coughing so hard that it makes him vomit. His appetite is non existent, so it's really hard to get him to eat anything. It sounds like the doctor is just waiting for him to start eating again before he can go home. She wants to try a different type of feeding tube called an NJ tube since Jacob threw up his NG tube two days ago when we tried that solution. The NJ tube goes down past the stomach and into the intestine a bit in order to keep it down even when he's coughing and throwing up. We will try the NG tube a couple more times next week before we resort to the NJ tube. I'm not comfortable taking him home yet, so I'm glad he is still here under professional care. His ANC has dropped really low as well, down to 440.